Wish we'd thought of that: arming the future with smart education and training

Wish we'd thought of that: arming the future with smart education and training
The 2016 round of the New Zealand Innovation Awards is open for entries so if you've got an amazing product, service or venture—or you know someone with a great idea who needs to be shoulder-tapped—now's the time to tell your story. And to get you thinking about entering—and to do as we always do and celebrate innovation of all stripes—we're showcasing the best ideas we come across. And this week we're looking at jealousy-inspiring ideas that would fit into the education, training and development category.

Do you have an innovation worth celebrating? Check out the categories of the 2016 Innovation Awards and tell your story by clicking here.

Created by New Zealanders – Jan Zawadzki and Tony Kong – but with an American outlook, Hapara is a cloud-based learning facilitator for K-12 classrooms. It manages classroom learning so teachers, students and administrators can organise and monitor learning. And more than 1.5 million people in 40 countries use it.

Harpara’s engineering and support teams are based in New Zealand, but its sales and marketing team is situated in Silicon Valley. As Zawadzki told the NZ Herald: "The mix of appetite for risk and availability of capital is unrivaled. In Silicon Valley you're playing in a casino, but every year or so some people walk out with billion-dollar payouts. That just doesn't happen elsewhere really. This stuff permeates the air - walk into a Starbucks and there is a start-up at every table - this is not a gross exaggeration."

Interactive publisher Kiwa Digital uses cutting-edge technology to bring books to life, and they look magical. In a column for Idealog this year founder Rhonda Kite said: “I see video not replacing our product, but being integrated more and more into it. For example, we’ve used video to introduce another language – sign language – into some of our books. Now deaf children and their classmates can learn to sign together using Hairy Maclary.”

Not just a pretty face, Clever Kash helps teach children about money in a world where pocket money has become invisible. ASB saw that most moneyboxes were collecting dust, not coins, so it devised a digital version that parents can use to show their children what pocket money they are putting into their account. 

Chief architect at ASB James Bergin says: "What we started to explore with our customers was that it's hard to teach your children about money if they can't touch it and see it and feel it, and so anything we could do to make that a richer, more tangible experience would be beneficial."

Want to be a coding hero? Michael Walmsley – Dr Mike – has created an online code-teaching platform called  Code Avengers with a team of academics, teachers, software developers, designers and business leaders for different levels of coding literacy. 

Education Perfect wants to unite the world through education. CEO and co-founder Craig Smith created Language Perfect while at high-school in New Zealand, when struggling to learn French and Japanese vocabulary. Brother, co-founder and now CIO Shane Smith built the software while studying medicine in Auckland.

The online platform helps over 300,000 students from 1,000 schools in a range of school subjects. They also hold the world's largest online educational events with tournaments in science, maths and English. 

For classrooms using Banqer, the teacher acts as a banker and regulates the classroom economy of personalised student accounts – as the class learns to pay bills and earn income. It won the BNZ 'Start-up Alley' competition in 2015. 

Banqer developer Kendall Flutey told Idealog this year: "I feel the most exciting aspect of edutech is that it's a way to immerse students into learning, rather than simply delivering content to them... Student interaction with new platforms, ideas, and concepts transforms learning from a passive event, to a very much involved one."

Kiwibank has now jumped aboard as a partner and is supporting the roll-out of the software into 1,000 classrooms around the country. 

Schoology uses a Facebook-esque interface to facilitate streamlined classroom activities and communication. The learning management system (LMS) acts as a portal for assignment guidelines, grades and feedback, and student-led collaborative discussion. The Hawke’s Bay’s Woodford House school was quick to catch on to the international innovation.

Talking to Idealog in 2013 principal Jackie Barron said: "Schoology is a tool, but it is an intuitive, seamless, flexible one that doesn't let technology get in the way of very exciting, dynamic, student-directed learning,” Last year a Woodford House teacher, Toni Dunstan, was named one of 25 world ambassadors for the platform with 12 million users worldwide.

As The Khan Acaedmy's says on its website, you can learn anything these days – if you've got the motivation – and you can learn it on your own time. 

And the founder Salman Khan's TED Talk says, access to video content online is changing the way we learn and putting the industrialised education system under pressure. The tech elite, as Wired calls them, have now turned to Khan to take that one step further and "reinvent schools in its own image." Its story is a fascinating glimpse into be the future of education